With the McCain campaign attacking Barack Obama for his flimsy ties to reformed Weatherman Bill Ayers, it seems especially relevant now to highlight McCain's questionable relationship with his embattled campaign manager, Rick Davis, and Davis' controversial clients. As Mark Ames and I report in a new article in The Nation, "McCain's Kremlin Ties," Davis worked to advance to the interests of Russian proxies in Eastern Europe and powerful oligarchs tied to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, with McCain lending a helping hand.
Over the course of the presidential campaign, John McCain has repeatedly emphasized his willingness to stand up to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as proof that only he possesses the fortitude and judgment to become the next leader of the free world. In his acceptance speech at the Republican convention, McCain lashed out at Putin and the Russian oligarchs, who, "rich with oil wealth and corrupt with power...[are] reassembling the old Russian Empire." McCain rushed to publicly support the Georgian republic during its recent conflict with Russia and amplified his threat to expel Moscow from the G-8 club of major powers. His running mate, Sarah Palin, suggested in her first major interview that the United States might have to go to war with Russia one day in order to protect Georgia--the kind of apocalyptic scenario the United States avoided during the cold war.
Yet despite McCain's tough talk, behind the scenes his top advisers have cultivated deep ties with Russia's oligarchy--indeed, they have promoted the Kremlin's geopolitical and economic interests, as well as some of its most unsavory business figures, through greedy cynicism and geopolitical stupor. The most notable example is the tale of how McCain and his campaign manager, Rick Davis, advanced what became a key victory for the Kremlin: gaining control over the small but strategically important country of Montenegro.
According to two former senior US diplomats who served in the Balkans, Davis and his lobbying firm, Davis Manafort, received several million dollars to help run Montenegro's independence referendum campaign of 2006. The terms of the agreement were never disclosed to the public, but top Montenegrin officials told the US diplomats that Davis's work was underwritten by powerful Russian business interests connected to the Kremlin and operating in Montenegro. Neither Davis nor the McCain campaign responded to repeated requests for comment. (Davis's extensive lobbying work, especially on behalf of collapsed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has already attracted critical media scrutiny.)
Read the full story here.